Introduction: Rhonda the Rhino
Here are the primary steps that go into the making of a rhinoceros using concrete and steel.
Step 1: How to Make "Rhonda the Rhino"
The technique I used to make Rhonda the Rhino can be used to create a sculpture of anything, any size. To start off, find a good profile image either from a magazine, your files, or the internet. You can also use a small scale model of any kind of figurine. Both will give you a sense of proportion. Here I used both a photo from the internet and a small figurine that I made using Sculpey clay.
Step 2: Weld the Framework
Weld a framework that is in direct proportion to your drawings, photo, or figurine. Here I made the horns and the toenails in sheet steel and welded them to the framework. The tail is made using several strands of rebar tie wire.
Step 3: Fill the Inside Space With Foam
Fill the space inside with scrap pieces of Styrofoam and then lock it all in place with a can of expandable urethane foam. It's best to cover the areas where you do not want the foam to adhere. In this case I covered the toenails, horns, and ears.
Step 4: Let the Foam Harden
Let the piece sit for a while until the foam hardens completely. It will look all billowy and pillowy.
Step 5: Carve Away the Foam to Match the Contours of the Metal Framework
The foam cuts easily with a serrated knife. Simply follow the contours of the metal framework that you created. You can also use to foam to add in an area where more is needed to fill out the shape. You can also do corrections with the concrete layers later.
Step 6: Sew on the Metal Mesh
This is the painstaking part where you literally sew on the mesh using a needle and thread, except the needle is about a foot long, smashed on one end with a small hole drilled in the flattened end. The thread is rebar tie wire. To sew on the mesh, pierce the object through and through to secure the mesh to the framework without going over the top of any of the metal rods. Tug on the wire each time you make a pass to make sure the mesh is tightly sewn to the frame.
Step 7: Rub and Scrub
Using a sculptural repair concrete called "Planitop X" by Mapei Corporation, I rubbed and scrubbed a thin layer deeply into the mesh so that there are no voids. This type of repair concrete sets up quickly. There are other types of repair concrete on the market that you can use.
Step 8: The Scratch Coat
Using a small piece of the metal mesh, scratch away the concrete you just rubbed and scrubbed down to the surface of the metal mesh. After this hardens, it will give bite to the finish layer of concrete.
Step 9: The Finish Coat of Concrete
Again using a layer of Planitop X repair concrete, start working the shape of the rhino. When it is all finished and hardened the next day, you can wire brush it with a steel brush on a 4-1/2" grinder. It will take on the appearance of granite. No need to paint the rhino since it is already the color of the concrete.